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Are You Properly Preparing Your Food?

Avoiding sugary, junk, fast, and processed foods is a great start to eating healthy. And once you’re purchasing real foods such as vegetables, fruits, meat, poultry, seafood, nuts, seeds, and whole grains you are almost there! What so many people don’t consider is one of the most important things when eating healthy, how to properly prepare your food.  You can quickly transform a healthy meal that you took time and spent money preparing into an unhealthy meal with negative effects to your health.

If you are buying organic foods, which usually cost a little more, and taking the extra time to prepare them don’t you want to make sure that the end product is as healthy as it can be?

You see, purchasing healthy foods is just the first step to eating healthier. You also have to prepare the food and many people don’t even consider the cooking process when eating healthy. A very common mistake most people make is they sauté their vegetables in a PTFE non-stick pan with vegetable oil or “steam” their vegetables in a microwave in the bag that it came in. We’ll go over the 3 main things to consider when preparing food. Your food absorbs what you cook it in and how you cook it can actually change the chemical components of the food.

 

  1. Cookware

Stainless steel pan representing a healthy way to cook and prepare food.

This is an easy one to quickly fix and avoid doing. You just have to make sure that the pots and pans that you will be preparing your food in are safe. Non-stick pans are an easy way to cook especially if you are a beginner and they are easy to clean which is important in our fast-paced society. But if they contain any type of toxic chemicals they need to be thrown out. Unfortunately, most do. 

At Alpha Omnia we want to create content that provides easy to follow advice that is interesting and engaging. We like to avoid all of the confusing scientific terms that can be difficult to understand. But to prove this point we have to quickly break that rule. We will make it as easy as possible, please bear with us.

Non-stick cook ware typically contains polytetrafluoroethylene-PTFE (lubricant coating) and substances containing polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl compounds-PFAS (toxic chemicals often found in fire retardants, oil and water repellents, furniture, waterproof clothes, and take out containers) to create conventional non-stick cooking surfaces.

*In English: Non-stick cook ware typically contains lubricant coating with substances that contain toxic chemicals to create conventional non-stick cooking surfaces.

They create the chemicals that give a non-stick pan a slippery surface that makes it is so easy to cook on. When these chemicals are exposed to heat they create a long-chain chemical compound called perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) that has been linked to many health problems including thyroid disease, infertility in women, organ damage, developmental and reproductive problems. The toxins created are considered likely carcinogens by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

What we’ve learned here is that non-stick pans that are coated with PTFE are made with materials that, when exposed to heat, create poisonous chemicals that are absorbed by the food and then consumed by you. These chemicals have detrimental effects on your health. I would avoid cooking on all non-stick pans that are not ceramic.

Fortunately, there are plenty of options for you to cook your food without non-stick pans. I recommend using stainless steel, ceramic cookware, and/or cast iron over the stove. In the oven you should use glass or stoneware. Please do some research on how to cook with these  if you have never done so in the past. I bet you will prefer cooking this way once you get accustomed to it.

 

  1. Cooking Oils

Olive Oil representing a healthy way to cook.

 

This is such an easy concept for me that it surprises me how many health professionals consistently get this wrong (humble brag). Never cook with any processed vegetable or canola oils and only cook using coconut, olive, butter and avocado oil.

Over 90 percent of canola oil is genetically modified, which if you have been following along with Alpha Omnia, you know that we avoid foods that are processed or modified. Canola oil is also a refined oil that is often hydrogenated to increase its stability. Unfortunately, this also increases its negative health effects. Hydrogenated oils contain trans fat, which raises LDL (bad) cholesterol and lowers HDL (good) cholesterol.

Vegetable oils are the most popular cooking oils in the U.S. They are the cheapest and easiest to cook with. But vegetable oils are loaded with trans fats and they are usually chemically altered. Avoid corn, soybean, vegetable, peanut, and sunflower oils when cooking. They are extremely unhealthy for you.

You should also avoid cooking in margarine, shortening, and any fake butter substitutes.

Your food absorbs what it is cooked in. Try cooking chicken in coconut oil one night and cook your chicken in olive oil another night. It will taste a different. 

The healthiest cooking oils are coconut, olive, and avocado. I also like to cook with butter. Butter, especially grass fed, is a healthy fat; I like to add it to olive oil or use it on it's own when I need to prepare something real quick.

It's important to know the smoke points of the oils you use. The smoke point is the temperature at which an oil begins to smoke. When it begins to smoke it generates toxic fumes and free radicals which are extremely dangerous to your body. Free radicals are linked to aging and a host of diseases such as Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular disease, cataracts, and diabetes to name a few. We obviously want to avoid this. 

Olive oil, coconut oil, and butter should be cooked at low to medium heat while avocado oil can be cooked at a medium to high temperature.

I was watching a Gordon Ramsay cooking video on Facebook the other day. In the video he was showing how to cook the perfect steak. He started out by saying to heat the olive oil until it begins to smoke before searing your steak in it. As we now know this is a huge red flag, if you are cooking with olive oil you can only cook with it over low-medium heat before it hits it’s smoke point and generates toxic fumes and free radicals. I’m sure the steak still tasted great but it essentially became poisonous by this method. If you are searing steak I recommend using Avocado oil.

People often link eating too much red meat with heart disease. People aren’t considering the other foods that people are eating with the red meat that may cause the heart problems such as the burger patties if consuming burgers, sauces high in fat, and side dishes or the way the food is prepared.  If a steak is marinated or cooked in unhealthy oil then of course it will be bad for you.

 

  1. Avoid Using a Microwave 

A no sign over a microwave oven symbolizing to avoid using a microwave for health purposes.

There is plenty of debate out there about whether using a microwave is good or bad. A microwave is a super easy and convenient way to prepare your food, there is no doubt about that. All you have to do is put some food in, set the time, and after a couple minutes you’ll have a warm meal ready to eat. But is it worth it? I recommend skipping a meal rather than eating one that was prepared in a microwave.

My favorite study about the effects of a microwave to your health is the one Hans Hertel did in the early 90's, he is the first scientist to carry out a quality study on the effects of microwaved nutrients on the blood and physiology of human beings. Dr. Mercola does a great job going over the study and who Hans Hertel is in the following article The Proven Dangers of Microwaves.

Hans Hertel is a man “driven by personal knowledge of violations of nature by corporate man and his state-supported monopolies in science, technology and education.”

His findings were that the change in nutrients was so significant in microwave cooking that it negatively affected the participants’ blood. These changes could cause deterioration in the human body. They included a decrease in all hemoglobin (red protein responsible for transporting oxygen in the blood of vertebrates) and cholesterol values. Especially the HDL (good) cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol values and ratio. 

When food is cooked in a microwave it goes under a violent state of friction to it’s cells which deforms the structures of molecules and has qualitative consequences. These cells are then more susceptible to viruses, fungi and other micro-organisms. This process can also occur to your body if you stand near a microwave while it is on.  

Conclusion

Stop using non-stick pans and a microwave and start cooking your food over the stove or in the oven. Just make sure that you are cooking with olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, or butter and avoid unhealthy oils. It will take a little longer but at least you know that you aren’t damaging your food which can end up damaging your body.

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